Thursday, April 4, 2013

Use of Personal Data on Internet Is ‘Out of Control’

86% of Consumers Think They Have Little or No Say About How Corporations Use Personal Information; 81% Want More Control Back
TETTNANG, Germany--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Security expert Avira announced today the results of its latest online research survey that found that 86 percent of consumers worldwide felt they had little or no control over how corporations use their personal information online.

The personal information survey was presented to a random sample of Avira’s website visitors during February and March of 2013. There were 950 respondents with a margin of error of +/- of 3.18 percent. The two-part question asked:

How much of a say do you feel you have today over your personal information on the Internet?
A) 54.53% - I feel like I have almost no say over how companies use my personal information online.
B) 32.11% - I feel like I have a little say over how companies use my personal information online.
C) 7.16% - I feel like I have a lot of say over how companies use my personal information online.
D) 6.21% - I feel like I have an almost complete say over how companies use my personal information online.

A follow-up question asked:
How much control would you like to have over your personal information on the Internet?
A) 80.95% - I'd like more control.
B) 16.53% - I'm happy with how much control I have.
C) 2.53% - I’d like less control.

“Most consumers don’t really understand what is happening with the information about them and this scares many of them. The reality is that they have more control than they think,” said Sorin Mustaca, IT security expert at Avira. “For example, only few know that they can disable the advertising tracker in their iPhones, they can install a do-not-track extension into their web browsers, and that they can control many privacy and security settings in Facebook and other social networking websites. Last but not least, no tool or security solution is able to replace a healthy common sense: do not share information about you which you don’t want to be public.

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FROM THE EDITOR
While I agree with these findings, I wonder about the respondents. If they were mostly European, it could skew the findings. In general, Europeans are much more aware of privacy issues than Americans; and European privacy protection laws are very tough, especially when compared to American laws, which are basically non-existent.
I posted here about a NY Times story that consumers would sell their privacy very cheaply.
So, who really cares about online privacy, the dangers of aggregators of personal information, and intrusive advertising?